To understand cloud security, let’s first understand what cloud computing is. Cloud computing is the operation of hosted services, software, hardware, and storage over the internet. All of us are using one or another type of cloud computing service, knowingly or unknowingly, today. OneDrive and Microsoft Photos, for instance, are cloud storage services that most of us are familiar with.
Most businesses and their IT security teams were reluctant to migrate to cloud services. The thought of having their data stored on a public cloud felt nightmarish to many. Stepping out of the haven—your own local servers—to an open cloud solution required a lot of deliberation. However, the reluctance was overcome by the strong positives offered by cloud computing services: ease of use, flexibility, configurability, and low cost.
With changing times, every progressing business felt pressured to take this leap to digital transformation. The rising demand and haphazard migrations posed an array of problems, with security being the main one. Cloud security, therefore, stems from the need to protect the cloud computing services and the data from attacks.
A Cloud security solution consists of a set of policies, controls, procedures, and technologies that work together to protect cloud-based systems, data, and infrastructure. The best practices for cloud security management are laid out intricately to prevent unauthorised access and keep data safe from all emerging threats. From authenticating access to filtering traffic, cloud security can be configured to meet the exact needs of a business.
Cloud Computing Categories
Public cloud services include software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).
A public cloud provider is in charge of operating private cloud services.
Private cloud services operated privately (say, by the internal IT department)
Hybrid cloud services
Who is responsible for securing the cloud-based services?
Cloud security is a shared responsibility. Yes, this statement may raise eyebrows, but protecting cloud services lies partly in the hands of the cloud provider and partly in the hands of the customer. Microsoft clarified this concept of shared responsibility, where a provider is primarily responsible for safeguarding physical and network infrastructure while the customer is responsible for direct security.
The different cloud service models—IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS—determine which components—from the physical infrastructure hosting the cloud right down to the data created, processed, and stored in it—will be the responsibility of the service provider or the customer, and therefore who will be responsible for securing them. The service-level agreement (SLA) that you sign with the provider assures that a part of cloud security will be taken care of by the cloud service provider.
Cloud Security Challenges
Data breaches: Cloud Services are a hotspot for cybercriminals because of the data they hold. Due to multiple entry points and a lack of visibility to narrow down compromised resources, data breaches are a common occurrence. Only providers with a strong record of implementing cybersecurity measures are to be trusted.
Misconfigurations and inadequate change control: According to a survey, 99% of IaaS misconfigurations go unnoticed. This does not stem from a single cause; there are several contributing factors leading to misconfigurations of the cloud’s security settings. Shared responsibility, increased awareness, and tools to analyse and prevent data loss need to be in place.
Lack of cloud security architecture and strategy: Cybersecurity is no small game. You need professionals in multidisciplinary segments to build a strong and resilient security architecture. Most businesses hire a single resource to oversee all aspects of cyber security combined with IT security. This leads to the ineffective implementation of the right framework. Hire a Managed Security Service Provider.
Insufficient identity, credential, access, and key management: Multifactor authentication and limited access need to be in place to limit challenges arising out of improper or poor access controls provided to different users within an organisation.
Account hijacking: Many people have extremely weak password security, including password reuse and the use of weak passwords. When an attacker gets hold of such credentials, they use them to access and control accounts and manipulate network and cloud infrastructure. Employee awareness is key to stopping such attacks.
Insider threats: Not everybody within an organisation shares the same interest and commitment. There can be bad fish in any team. Such inside threats are hard to detect and control. A zero-trust policy should be exercised to prevent such threats.
Why is cloud security important?
The list of challenges mentioned above does not end here. However, the listed challenges do highlight the need for sound cloud security. Data compromise can mean the end of the business itself. With cloud platforms holding your confidential data like secret designs, financial records, and customer identities, it is crucial to protect them.
Preventing leaks and data theft is critical for maintaining customer trust and protecting the assets that contribute to your competitive advantage.
Cloud security is a shared responsibility; businesses contemplating a cloud security strategy must look toward streamlining the necessary security technologies, from malware protection and intrusion prevention to vulnerability management and endpoint detection and response. A cloud-based security solution like Trend Micro is as effective and powerful as any native security solution.
Cloud Security Best Practices
Choose a reliable Cloud Service provider: Choosing the right, or rather, experienced, cloud service provider can make or break your business. Always look for providers who enforce stringent security measures and meet all regulatory compliance requirements. Transparency is another aspect to consider when selecting a provider. How open are they about their security and vulnerabilities? Do not compromise or cut corners while selecting a cloud service provider.
Transparency is the key to maintaining Shared Responsibility: Team up with a provider who is ready to share and understands the role you play in this partnership. Cloud security is multi-dimensional, so there are aspects that you, as a business owner, need to look after and aspects that the cloud service provider needs to manage. Make sure every aspect of security is well communicated. Who does what needs to be defined to prevent mishaps and minimise damage in the event of an attack.
Train users well: Users are your primary protection system for secure cloud computing. Ignorance can prove lethal. Train your employees on how to access and how not to access the cloud platforms. Teaching them to recognise phishing emails and making them aware of the dangers of open networks can go a long way toward securing your cloud data.
Maintain visibility: Lack of visibility is a major factor in security breaches. Maintaining the visibility of the whole ecosystem can be challenging. However, if you make it a part of your process, a lot of security threats can be minimised. See it to secure it. Get to a granular level to see who is accessing the cloud platform and from where.
Follow best password practices: Passwords are the first point of entry for breaches. Weak passwords, the same passwords for multiple accounts, poor storage mechanisms—educate your team on all these aspects of password management. You can also enforce multi-factor authentication as an extra layer of cloud security best practices.
Cloud Security SLAs and Contracts: Service-level agreements (SLAs) and Contracts should never be overlooked. Read and understand them carefully to ensure which aspects of security are handled by the service provider and which ones are your responsibility. Make sure there are no gray areas that may hinder legal aid if the need ever arises.
Enforce endpoint security: Implement endpoint security and make sure your users access cloud platforms only through secure channels. Tools like antivirus, intrusion detection tools, mobile device security, and firewalls should be in place.
Maintain the Highest Encryption levels: Consider using encryption, especially to secure data during transfers between the cloud service platform and your network. Encryption basics help maintain full control over the data.
Enforce the Zero Trust Policy: Restrict the amount of information shared with each user. Share only role-specific data. Put it into practice, practice stringent security, and educate each employee to follow it without deviation.
Employ a Managed Security Service Provider:Cloud security needs to be a multi-layered system that encompasses monitoring, deployment, identification of threats, analysis, mitigation, and recovery. Only a team of professionals can handle cloud security with confidence. Make sure you get in touch with a Managed Security Service Provider before taking the big step.
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